After years of headaches, the US Navy’s first stealth destroyer is operating farther from home than ever before


Navy Zumwalt Yokosuka

A tug escorts the USS Zumwalt to port on Sept. 26 in Yokosuka, Japan.U.S. Navy/Sailor Darren Cordoviz

  • US Navy destroyer USS Zumwalt is patrolling the Pacific to visit Guam and Japan.

  • This journey is the furthest from home since the futuristic stealth warship entered service.

  • It comes after years of mechanical issues and debates about the ship’s role in the fleet.

The U.S. Navy’s most advanced destroyer may finally turn over a new operational leaf after years of delayed maintenance, budgetary issues and debate over its role in the fleet.

USS Zumwalt, the lead of the Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers, called at Guam on September 19, arrived in Japan on September 26, and departed Japan on October 8.

The voyage marks the furthest the warship has been from its San Diego homeport since it was commissioned in 2016. It’s also your chance to understand what the Zumwalt-class really does for the Navy.

“The ship and crew are tasked just like a normal ship, but their employment is to introduce the class of ships into the operational environment and to understand how best to operate them on other ships/platforms. part of the fleet consolidation process.” Navy official told CNN.

Navy Zumwalt Yokosuka

USS Zumwalt at Yokosuka on September 26.U.S. Navy/Sailor Darren Cordoviz

Zumwalt — the USS Zumwalt, the USS Michael Monsour, and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson each cost about $8 billion — was originally intended to launch long-range land-attack projectiles that are rocket-supported 155 mm. Designed using the Advanced Gun System. According to the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, the bullet is “the most accurate and longest-range guided projectile.”

During these rounds, the Zumwalts were to provide fire support for the landing forces and conduct other operations in coastal waters, but the Navy’s planned order of Zumwalt-class ships was reduced from about 30 to just three. Costs for these rounds have risen due to the reduction to ships.almost $1 million each.

Unable to fulfill its intended role, Zumwalts was reassigned and the Navy decided to: Arm yourself with up to 12 new hypersonic missiles.

As part of that plan, the ship’s main guns will be removed and replaced with vertical launchers for Common Hypersonic Glide bodies.Modification to start in 2023, US Navy official says told USNI News.

Navy Zumwalt

USS Zumwalt in the Pacific on April 10.US Navy/MCS2 Malcolm Kelly

In addition to technical challenges, the ship has faced years of maintenance problems, including a malfunction of the USS Zumwalt’s propulsion system that left her hull immobile. Panama Canal in 2016 Must be towed—second breakdown during first few months of service.

Zumwalts’ new technology doesn’t always work, but Sailors have complemented the design.

Underway off Alaska in 2019, the crew used storms to test the ship’s handling in heavy seas. Captain Andrew Carlson said the Tumblehome hull design, which straightens the ship more quickly than previous designs, made it easier to handle despite 13 to 20 foot waves.

“He said he wanted to be on that ship more than any other ship I’ve been on,” Carlson said. Zumwalt told Defense News.“Those of us who’ve been on cruisers wonder if they’ll ever lean over 15 degrees, especially in the air, and come back. We’ve never experienced anything like that.”

year of production

Sailors handle the line aboard USS Zumwalt

Sailors handle lines on the USS Zumwalt during refueling at sea in the Philippine Sea on September 5.US Navy/MCS2 Jaimar Carson Bondurant

The Navy says the USS Zumwalt’s time in the Pacific is Not an official deploymenta port call to Guam underscores the United States’ enduring presence in the region.

“This call is a testament to the hard work of the crew and the resilience of the ship,” said Capt. Amy McInnis, Zumwalt commander. Said After arriving in Guam.

While Zumwalt was in Japan, the crew received supplies such as food, repair parts, and mail. The ship’s commander, Andrew Zarevski, Said While his stay in Japan “looks ordinary”, the visit “was actually the culmination of years of hard work and planning”.

Deploying destroyers with the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet and with allies and partners is an “important step” for Zumwalt and the fleet, said spokespeople for Task Force 71 and Destroyer Division 15. Officer Lieutenant Catherine Serrano said: Zumwalt is currently assigned.

Navy Zumwalt Japan

Sailors stand watch on the bridge as USS Zumwalt departs Yokosuka on October 8.US Navy/MCS2 Jaimar Carson Bondurant

“The Zumwalt-class destroyer maximizes stealth, size, power, and computational power, with an array of weapon systems and cutting-edge technology that can be used in the air, under the sea, and on land,” said Serrano. told Insider.

As tensions with China rise over issues such as Taiwan, Beijing has repeatedly criticized U.S. military activities in the region, including passage of the U.S. Navy through waters claimed by Beijing.

In July, China’s foreign ministry said the US’ so-called freedom of navigation was an attempt to “undermine regional peace and stability.”

U.S. officials have often emphasized a network of allies in the region, stating that their forces are “continue to fly, sail and operate as long as international law permits.”

Rachel Nostrant is a US-based journalist whose work has appeared in New York Magazine, VTDigger, Military Times and Defense News. She has covered topics such as environmental pollution outside military bases, the murder of US Army soldier Vanessa Gillen, rising tensions between China and Taiwan, and the war in Ukraine.

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